Growing by Degrees

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (07/30/18) Badertscher, Nancy

In Georgia, all licensed practical nurses and registered nurses must meet some continuing education requirements before their can have their licensed renewed. This leaves nurses struggling to juggle shift work and class work so they can pursue degrees through public, private, or online nursing programs. The demand for nurses with advanced degrees or continuing education credits is on the rise as care complexities among patients rise, with the Institute of Medicine indicating that an increasing number of older Americans have multiple chronic conditions. The report recommended that 80 percent of nurses have a bachelor’s degree by 2020 and that the number of nurses pursuing doctorates double. Since then, nursing schools have created or expanded their baccalaureate and post-graduate nursing programs, with online programs experiencing a strong surge. In Georgia, the state licensing reports demonstrate growth in all nurse categories. Linda Streit, dean of Mercer University's Georgia Baptist College of Nursing, said surveys over the past several years show that more than 50 percent of the university’s new graduates expect to pursue an advanced degree in the future, and some within a year or two. Kennesaw University's Master of Science in Nursing student Jeff Batcher says pursuing a master's degree would provide him with “more options to grow within the field.” He adds, “In the short-term, it is allowing me greater knowledge of how to do my current job even better. In the long-term, I think it will help me go higher in nurse administration and have a broader impact on policies in the hospital and the way we do nursing.”

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